Welsh assembly parties battle for victory in 5 May poll

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Media captionWatch: The BBC's Betsan Powys reports on the election issues on the minds of voters in Wales

Just a few weeks ago, the leaders of the four main parties in Wales were campaigning together, working hand in hand to secure a Yes vote in the referendum on granting the assembly direct law-making powers in area like health, education and economic development.

Now Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are battling it out in the Welsh general election, vying for 60 seats in the assembly and for the right to put those new powers to work.

The election battle is taking place against the backdrop of two coalitions. Labour and Plaid Cymru have run the Welsh government for the past four years, but are now locked in an escalating war of words as the campaign intensifies.

For both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, it's the first time they've fought an assembly election with their parties in government at a UK level.

At the moment, the polls are showing Labour holding a substantial lead over the other parties, with ratings touching the 50% mark in one recent survey.

However, due to the assembly's proportional "top up" list system for electing AMs, it remains unclear whether Labour can secure the 31 seats needed for a majority without coalition partners.

So there's much to fight for.

The issue of the economy is dominating the campaign, with the parties competing to lay out how they'd create jobs and boost wealth in Wales.

Labour would establish a Welsh Jobs Fund to increase employment opportunities for young people.

Plaid Cymru are proposing a not-for-profit company called Build for Wales to raise extra money to build more hospitals, schools and roads.

Image caption Whoever forms the next Welsh Assembly Government will enjoy new law-making powers

The Liberal Democrats are pledging training grants to new businesses to take on and train young unemployed.

The Conservatives have made the abolition of business rates for small businesses the centrepiece of their campaign.

On health, another key issue for voters, the Conservatives are the only party to pledge they would give the NHS in Wales inflation-proofed funding increases every year during the next assembly term.

The other parties say this would mean deeper cuts across all other areas, including education and economic development.

Education is also a central battleground following a series of disappointing results in international comparisons and a number of critical reports.

Plaid Cymru say they are committed to halving illiteracy and innumeracy rates for children leaving primary school by 2016 and virtually eliminate the problem by 2020.

Maximise shrinking resources

The Liberal Democrats would introduce a 'pupil premium' to target support at the most deprived.

The Conservatives say they would fund schools directly from government in order to cut down on bureaucracy and encourage more specialist schools.

Labour, who've been in charge of education since 1999, are defending their record and saying they'd ensure more cash gets to the frontline.

All four parties say they're committed to reforming the way public services are delivered and finding ways to maximise shrinking resources amid a backdrop of growing demands.

It means whoever is in government after 5 May is likely to use their new law-making powers more sparingly than might have been expected.

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